Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is the reactivation of the chicken pox virus and causes a nasty rash often on the chest or face (sometimes involving the eye). The rash can be extremely painful and some may get post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) - severe debilitating pain which may last for years. Approximately 20-30% of people who have had chicken pox will get a shingles and is more common as we get older with the incidence rising sharply over the age of 50. Half of people living to 85 will get shingles.
There is an effective vaccine against shingles which can be given to people over the age of 50 and is is free to Australians aged 71-79.